The Los Angeles Rams released an injury report on Tuesday for Saturday’s Divisional Round game with the Dallas Cowboys. In the report, it was revealed that star running back Todd Gurley was limited in practice with a knee injury.
Gurley → limited
Joyner → full participant
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 9, 2019
Ordinarily, we wouldn’t be too concerned with this. It would be something to monitor but in a vacuum, there’s nothing to indicate that Gurley will be limited come game time.
The problem is that we don’t live in a vacuum.
In Week 15, Gurley rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns and added 10 receptions for 76 yards in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. That was on December 16. He sat out the final two games of the regular season and Los Angeles earned a bye for Wild Card Weekend.
When the Rams and Cowboys square off on Saturday night, it will have been nearly a full month since Gurley last played. But only four days before the game, Gurley remains limited in practice. When we jump out of the vacuum and look at everything, that’s worrisome — especially if you’re pulling for Los Angeles.
In the Rams’ thrilling Week 11 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Gurley had something of a limited role. He ran 12 times for 55 yards and added three receptions for 39. Until that game, he had averaged 20 carries for 99 yards and five receptions for 40 yards a game. Of course, Los Angeles won the game, scoring 54 points in the process. So, we weren’t pressing the panic button.
Still, it was noticeable.
Beginning with that thriller, he averaged 15 carries for 66 yards and five receptions for 45 yards a game. We can tout the slight uptick in receiving production all we want. But that’s a pretty dramatic drop in both total carries and yards per carry. It’s even worse when we remember that in one of the four games, he ran 23 times for 132 yards, making the dip in production look less significant than it really was. But in the two games after that one outlier, he carried the ball a total of 23 times for 76 yards. Not coincidentally, the Rams lost both times.
If Gurley was a full go in practice now, those numbers wouldn’t matter. We could chalk them up to him dealing with a now healed nagging injury. But that’s clearly not the case. He was less than productive than normal for a four-game stretch (especially over the final two), sat out two games, had another bye, and is still limited.
Of course, we don’t know what Saturday against Dallas will bring. If you’re expecting Gurley to be the same explosive back that he was for most of the first three-quarters of the season, we salute the optimism. But we also have to wonder how anyone paying attention would come to that conclusion.
For the final weeks of the season, something was clearly not right with Gurley. Heading into the Divisional Round, the problem obviously isn’t yet fixed. The Rams have been one of the NFL’s best teams all season. They have genuine championship aspirations. But with the beginning of Los Angeles’ postseason right around the corner, the health of its superstar running back has to be quite concerning.